Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Brown Must Go?

Is this the call from the Thurrock Labour Group? How does the turbulence of events at Westminster and the sight of the electoral map turning blue affect the micro-climate of the red side of Thurrock?

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  1. Here is the briefing from the Labour Party following the local election results. Please stay on message Carl – you know the line to take.


    Tough times for Labour – but not the breakthrough the Tories wanted either. We need to work hard together to come through this recession, listen to the voters, and earn back people’s trust after the expenses scandal. But if we do that then we can be confident that in a head-to-head with the Tories – where the choice is between a Labour party led by Gordon Brown and determined to stand by people, or a Tory party led by David Cameron that would walk on by when people need help most – then we can go forward from today and win.

    I think the whole cabinet have found James Purnell’s resignation surprising and disappointing. Labour Party supporters were out campaigning hard yesterday and this is the last thing they would have wanted to see. James is still in the early stages of his career and I’m sure he’ll be back. His decision is the wrong one, as cabinet colleagues have said.

    I think James has drawn the wrong conclusion for two reasons. First, the public wants to send us a message that after a month of hearing about moats and mortgages and duck houses that they are angry about expenses and want them sorted out fast. Second, they are worried about their jobs and want us to return our focus to accelerating economic recovery. Now those are the plans that Gordon Brown is working on and over the coming week he will make sure that he has a first class team full square behind him.

    We now need to listen to voters’ anger over expenses and to act. The last thing the country needs right now is for the party to turn inward. Faith in politics has been badly shaken and needs to be restored. Families are worried about their homes and jobs and are trusting us to stand by them and bring them through the downturn.

    It is already clear that these are going to be a tough set of elections at a tough time for the Labour Party – we’re in the middle of a recession, turnout is significantly down, people are clearly angry about expenses and as the party of government with the most MPs, it looks like we’re feeling the brunt of that anger.

    There are some interesting results. We’ve won seats from the SNP in Scotland and held seats in places like Hastings where the Tories might have been expected to advance – meanwhile the Tories came seventh in the Hartlepool mayoral election.

    Tough times for Labour but not great for Cameron either. Voters who are angry about MPs flipping homes or cleaning their moats on expenses are staying at home or voting for minor parties – but they are not switching in great numbers to the Tories. The Tories got 44% last year, when the local votes are projected into a nationwide vote. This time they’re predominantly in their heartlands but they don’t appear to be lifting off from that result. That tells us that Labour need to respond to people’s concerns but in a head-to-head, we can still win the fight with the Tories.

    It’s hard to translate European and local election results into consequences for a General Election. In 1989, when we were in opposition, Labour won the European elections – but lost the 1992 General Election. In 2004, Labour were down to 22% – but we beat the Conservatives in the elections the following year.

    Sunday’s national results will tell us a bit more. Anything less than 36% for the Tories means that David Cameron is falling short of where William Hague was in 1999. They had 27 MEPs last time – it will be interesting to see if they get many, many more.

    Going forward: in the coming weeks we will set out widescale plans for cleaning up politics and accelerating our recovery and reforming public services.


    James Purnell’s Resignation?

    I am obviously disappointed about James’s resignation. The Prime Minister and the rest of the Cabinet are absolutely focussed on the big challenges of cleaning up our politics and getting Britain back to work quicker:

    how we guide the economy through the downturn and strengthen it for the future

    how we push ahead with reform of and investment in our public services

    how we renew trust in our democracy and Parliament.

    It is sad that James has gone but we get on with the job of helping people through this downturn fairly. The PM will continue to give his undivided attention to addressing these great challenges facing our country and putting the interests of the British people first and foremost.

    John Hutton resignation?

    John is going to step down as an MP at the next election for personal reasons. Really sad to see him go – he’s done a fantastic job. Whole party will thank him for his contribution over the years at Dept for Health and at BERR, and particularly for his recent leadership at the Ministry of Defence, where, in the most challenging times, he has overseen the end of combat operations in Iraq and supported our troops in bringing security and stability to Afghanistan.

    Time to change leader?

    Right now we face the two great challenges of this era – an economic crisis that has engulfed the world and caused global recession; and a political crisis that has engulfed Westminster. In Gordon Brown we have someone not only with the economic leadership and experience to tackle the global recession and to steer us through the downturn but with the integrity and determination to sort out the challenge of MPs’ expenses.

    Has Labour been worst hit by expenses row?

    The vast majority of MPs work terrifically hard for their constituents and have been appalled by some of the wilder stories about moats or swimming pools. All agree that we need to take action now to restore faith in Parliament. It’s important to remember that the expenses crisis is not just confined to government but to all parties – and even David Cameron has had to answer questions about his two mortgages.

    What about resignations from Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears?

    Sad to see them leave – both have an excellent record. As Home Secretary, Jacqui has cut crime; introduced the tough Australian points based immigration system; and rolled out neighbourhood policing across the country. And as Communities Secretary, Hazel has led reforms in local government and ensured that we’ve had better local services as well as the lowest average council tax increase in 15 years.

    What are you doing on expenses?

    The vast majority of our MPs have worked terrifically hard and are doing an excellent job. They didn’t come into politics to get rich but to help people and all of them are determined to restore faith in Parliament. The old system is dead. An independent-led body will now check the claims of every MP over the past 4 years. We have agreed that in future MPs should no longer set their own pay, allowances or standards of conduct and that these should be handed over to independent regulation. MPs’ allowances are being stripped right back:

    – no more claims on moats or swimming pools – no claims on furniture, household goods, gardening, cleaning, or stamp duty;

    – no more ‘flipping’ or avoiding Capital Gains Tax;

    – mortgage claims only on interest and capped at a maximum of £1,250 a month;

    – no more London MPs claiming second homes;

    – no more second home allowances for those in grace-and-favour homes;

    – and no more secret second jobs.

    Don’t we need a General Election?

    Neither of the two great challenges we face – the economic challenge and the political challenge – would be solved by an election. And the last thing the country needs is for Labour to be talking to itself. That is why the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are focussed on the big challenges that matter to the British people: cleaning up our politics and getting Britain back to work quicker.

    Why are the BNP winning in places?

    BNP success down to three things: first, gut reaction of voters wanting to punish main parties; second, very low turnout; and third, their deliberate strategy of attempting to gloss over their racist nature. That means all main parties, not just Labour, need to listen and respond to voters’ anger over expenses; encourage people to get out and vote – which they will do in greater numbers at an election; and all of us need to uncover the true face of the BNP who are led by a man with convictions for inciting racial hatred. Many of the people who’ve voted for BNP are not racist and I think many of them would be appalled by the nature of that organisation as it begins to show its true face.

    Do you accept part responsibility for rise in BNP?

    The BNP are a fascist Party – our parents and grandparents fought a World War to defeat what the BNP stands for. There is a duty on all parties to fight the values of the BNP. We’ve campaigned hard and the PM was out on Monday directly addressing the threat of the BNP – quite unusually for a sitting PM.

    The Tories are saying that Labour is to blame for the rise in the BNP – are they right?

    No. We would much rather be fighting the Tories in white working class areas but in many of the places targeted by the BNP there has been no sign of the Tories since Margaret Thatcher in the mid-80s. We know that it tends to be unemployed men who are most likely to vote for the BNP – that’s why it is so important that we reach out to that group – for example, we are giving a guarantee of a job or training place to every young person out of work for more than a year. Instead of trying to get some kind of party political advantage out of this, the Tories should be setting out what they would do to help the unemployed in white working class areas, instead of ignoring them.

    Background facts

    Most of the seats are in county council Tory heartlands – and the last time we fought them was on General Election days when turnout was much higher – so our expectation is low

    The councils up for election are predominantly County Councils in two tier areas (27). The three Labour-controlled councils majority (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire) are all vulnerable.

    There are also Mayorals – although we only hold one out of the four up for election and that in an area the Tories have traditionally held

    Highlights so far:

    Labour gain from SNP in Glasgow (Anniesland / Drumchapel Ward). Anne McTaggart wins 2689 – 1698 on second stage of transfers

    Labour gain from SNP in North Lanarkshire (Coatbridge North and Drumboig Ward). Peter Sullivan wins on several stages of transfers after leading SNP by 37% – 30% of first prefs

    Hartlepool mayoral results:

    first preferences only. Tories beaten into 7th place behind UKIP and the BNP. Lib Dems losing deposit.

    Results for Hastings:

    Braybrooke and Castle – Labour hold with 47% of the vote

    Central St Leonards and Gensing – Labour hold with 40% of the vote

    Hollington and Wishing Tree – labour hold with 43% of the vote

    http://www.labour.org.uk Sent by email from the Labour Party, promoted by Ray Collins on behalf of The Labour Party, both at 39 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0HA. Website: labour.org.uk ; to join or renew call 08705 900 200.


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